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Our Way

Three siblings, one using a wheelchair, one walking, and one pushed in a stroller, travel across the city to their favorite park.

Photo of Andrew Egan
4 3

Written by

(Art Note: Each stanza's fourth line is a question, which can be placed within the narrative or in a guide for caregivers. This guide for caregivers will instruct: 1. Ask each question; 2. Wait; 3. Accept multiple responses, words, or sounds; 4. Maybe ask a follow-up question; 5. Affirm by saying "Okay!" or "I hear you" to encourage.) 

The best park takes a long trip.

It’s a long trip but we can do it our way. 

Whir whir whir whir.

That’s how we go down the ramp. 

That’s just our way.

When you go outside what sound do you hear? (See guide)

Bow wow! Bow wow! 

There go the dogs.

That’s just our way.

What about the sound of the birds? 

Swish, swish, swish, swish.

Then comes the grass.

That’s just our way. 

When you go on grass what sound do you make?

Boom! Bop Bop Boom! Bop Bop Boom! 

Goes the music on the corner. 

That’s just our way.

What music do you hear on the street? 

Beep. Beep. Beep. Pshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. 

The bus is here. 

That’s just our way.

When you go what sound do you make?

Rattle, bang. Rattle, bang. Rattle, bang. 

Goes the baby on the bus. 

That’s just our way.

When you are on the bus what do you say?


Off the bus and down the block.

That’s just our way.

How do you sound when you go down the block?


That’s the gate at our park. 

That’s just our way.

When you open a gate how does it sound? 

Click. Click. Zip. Zip. 

Now we’re ready to play.

That’s just our way.

When you go down a slide what do you do?  


We hear her laugh. It’s Mommy! 

That’s just our way.

How do you sound when you laugh? 

That’s our way to the park.

What’s your way? 

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

My manuscript, Our Way, for children ages 0-3, uses repetitive language and open-ended questions to include caregivers in language development. Each city sound invites the young reader to listen, imagine or predict the cause of the sound, turn the page to find out, and add in their own ideas.

Share your suggested book title

Our Way

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

As an early educator with twelve years of experience, I am interested in how young children build connections through language. Consistently working and reading with preschool-aged children gives me invaluable insights into the social world of children. All children, regardless of identity or development, benefit from the sound and rhythm of language. Relying on Vygotsky's principle of the zone of proximal development, my manuscript gently guides readers with its patterned structure. Specifically, the caregiver produces the city sounds before asking the reader for their ideas. This support encourages the reader to build on pre-existing schemata. Furthermore, language is often repeated again and again, but in new or different arrangements, another example of how the story can help support the young reader as they master new vocabulary or approach new language. Finally, because the open-ended questions follow each city sound, the reader may echo the previous sound or create their own.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

The economic and physical characteristics of city life are displayed in my manuscript. The availability and accessibility of public transportation is essential for families living and working in urban areas, so the trip on the bus is necessary and realistic for this family. Also, the story features a working mother who also addresses the emotional and physical needs of her young children by playing with them at the park on her break. The sounds of corner music, neighborhood dogs, and noisy babies encourage the reader to take the city trip along with the siblings, whether or not they identify as city kids. Lastly, the language is inclusive in regards to genders and physical abilities.

Location: Country

Brooklyn, NY USA

Tell us more about you / your team

Teaching at public schools in New York City for ten years instills me with commitment to anti-racist and culturally responsive literature. Additionally, as a gay male, I am committed to working with young children in order to help redefine and illuminate the experiences of genders and identities. In other words, I am dedicated to composing narratives that highlight the multiple lived experiences of children. Currently, as an MFA candidate of children’s literature at Simmons University, I support my picturebook craft through my weekly writing group and participation in SCBWI seminars.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

Attached is an image of Ekua Holmes' busy, warm cityscape. Also, because the movement from page turning is important to my story, I included an image from Christopher Myers. Bold texture and composition can express the sounds in my story, working with the text. Finally, Christian Robinson's art expresses the construction and importance of race and identity in urban American cities.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • No

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)


What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists


Join the conversation:

Photo of Itika Gupta

Hi Andrew Egan  Welcome to the Challenge Community!
Rhythm, repeating phrases, sounds of objects... your story has lots of engaging and fun elements for children to hear.
How might you evolve your manuscript to introduce new nudges of engagement and interaction for caregivers, to help them with their child’s learning development as they narrate the story? You can find some inspiration in the Final Toolkit and Challenge Resources on the main page

Photo of Andrew Egan

Thanks for your advice and words. I am hoping that some back matter information will provide ways for caregivers to use the questions (the fourth line of each stanza) in order to wait for a response, accept any response, and ask more questions to create a dialogue. I can try to make that clear, too, in my submission. Thanks!

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